National Coffee Day!

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I started drinking at a very early age, coffee that is…Our next door neighbor, Margaret made coffee for me every weekday morning for almost two years! My older sister was in school, and I was four years old. Margaret made lunch for her elderly mother everyday- sometimes I would even get to go to her mother’s house.  I loved it when Margaret made cake batter- whisking it by hand, and sometimes if I was lucky she would sit and drink coffee with me while things were cooking in Margaret’s sunny kitchen. Some of my earliest memories are of coffee perking away on a gas stovetop at my grandmother’s house- she let me drink coffee too. These ladies made it thick with sugar and cream for me, so I loved it. However I now prefer my coffee-Columbian and black- unless- I can get a Cappuccino made like it is supposed to be made, or a real Cubano Espresso, which is half sugar and half espresso or lovely bitter chicory coffee at Café Du Monde in New Orleans! image

Beautifully Made Cappuccino in NYC.

It may seem odd that a confirmed Southerner loves coffee- but wait not so fast! With coffee plantations in the Caribbean since the eighteenth century, how could we not love coffee? It’s been said that Americans began their love affair with coffee after the Boston Tea Party, when it was considered unpatriotic to drink coffee…but of course we couldn’t lay off the Tea for very long! I’m a huge fan of Luzianne Tea, which is the taste of tea from my youth. However, Alabama is home to Royal Cup Coffee and Red Diamond Tea and Coffee! So, I love those brands too! I once toured the Red Diamond plant and it smelled so divine- I asked them for a job! They turned me down, I think because they knew it wouldn’t be profitable.

I am considered odd because I drink coffee even when it is boiling hot outside– I hold to this tradition because I personally believe that when the inside of the body is a higher temperature than the outside – well you get the picture- it seems to cool me off! It is one of those superstitions I hang on to!

For years I’ve been collecting ‘facts’ about coffee! Sorry I didn’t save the sources but here goes:

  • Most Americans drink coffee in the morning- except me, I can drink it all day long!
  • Coffee is full of antioxidants and may lower risk of several types of cancer including skin cancer- but don’t stop using your sunscreen!
  • Your morning workout may be less painful if you drink coffee beforehand!
  • Your mind will be stimulated, alert and your memory sharper, not to mention your energy levels will increase after drinking that morning cup of coffee.
  • Now, don’t get too excited but coffee does tend to suppress the appetite– if you’re drinking it with heavy cream and sugar don’t expect the pounds to drop off!
  • Of course, too much coffee can cause insomnia and a slight rise in blood pressure.
  • Some folks like me- who drink lots of coffee can experience an increase in heart rate- to avoid this I drink decaffeinated coffee.
  • Columbian coffee is naturally decaffeinated.
  • Too much caffeine makes me jittery and nervous- but a moderate amount of coffee seems to have some heart benefits, probably those antioxidants.

If you start drinking early like me…Drink in moderation! It’s so satisfying to sip a cup of coffee and collect my thoughts first thing in the morning. But please don’t always drink your coffee alone…Call and friend and go have coffee! Having coffee with friends increases stamina, lifts the spirits and some have suggested there may be a higher tolerance for aches and pains; now that’s good news! So, to all you fellow coffee lovers- be like nice southern ladies…Don’t drink…Sip.

Love y’all, Camellia

For those who would like even more tips about Coffee- go to Royal Cup Coffee Company’s site- http://www.royalcupcoffee.com/blog, you’ll be glad you did!

Images are from AOL and may be subject to copyright.

Dream of Peace…

Born in Poland, bravely married his sweetheart, Sonya during World War ll, attended Harvard, rose to power as Prime Minister of Israel, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shimon Peres was, above all a dreamer. The Star of David shone brighter because he dared to dream of peace for his people and his neighbors. May his life continue to inspire us all to become peacemakers.

shimon-peres                                                         Shimon Peres 1923-2016

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love you…’ Psalm 122:6-8′

‘Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God’ Matthew 5:9


Love y’all, Camellia

*AOL image of Shimon Peres may be subject to copyright

Reading List…

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What we’re reading at Camellia’s Cottage right now may surprise you! We love to read cookbooks! Regional Cookbooks from folks who are known and better yet, not well known at all! I have one irreplaceable cookbook written by double first cousins on my grandmother’s side of the family, the stories and tips are delightful! Then there are the Junior League Cookbooks, which never fail to amuse me; not to mention the mouthwatering recipes in each and every one! I also love to read the Lee Brothers Cookbooks and the legendary Pat Conroy’s Cookbook has amazing recipes and stories. There were two fictional books by Southern Authors, The Path of the Child by Sojourner McConnell and All Over but the Shoutin’ by Pulitizer Prize winning- Rick Bragg; both are wonderfully written novels but I found myself drawn to the food in each! Sojourner’s Thanksgiving feast and Rick Bragg’s momma going out in early fall and finding a ‘hardheaded cabbage’ brought about sensory images!  Reading cookbooks as literature is fun! image

The added information is priceless. In Recipe Jubilee, the Junior League of Mobile cookbook-One lady says ‘ Crumble bacon with your fingers until it is pulverized’ What? Another gives the recipe for  Pommes de Terre Souffles, a fancy way of making French Fries- when she says – ‘If they don’t puff up- start over’ – my hearts sinks over that one! Then in the Party Punch section, one lady who undoubtedly is- pre-Cise …submitted a punch recipe with an enormous amount of likker (liquor) which serves 98-100 people! The very next recipe has an enormous amount of spirits as well, yet she ends her recipe by saying ‘It serves…well, I don’t know your guests!’ I love this lady! She is not precise, she shows her humor is a delightful way!silver-punch-bowl

Folks from Mobile are blessed- they can just scoot over to New Orleans in a few hours…so you will find recipes from famous restaurants submitted by – I feel certain-formidable society ladies like Mrs. Frank Webb. Read this Pineapple and Yam concoction-


Arnaud’s Pineapple and Louisiana Yams Flambe a la Germaine

Boil 2 yams and slice. Roll 4 slices of pineapple and sliced yams in flour, then milk, then flour again. Fry pineapple and yams in oil or shortening until golden brown. Place a cherry in center of each pineapple. Place pineapple and yams in oven dish and cover freely with sugar. Bake in moderate oven for five minutes. When ready to serve, pour rum over mixture and light with a match and then, pour sherry wine over all. Serves 4.


Just the name of the recipe is a mouthful! It occurred to me how much trouble this recipe would be just for 4 people! Not to mention the risk in burning down the house!  Mostly I thought this recipe for pineapple and yams from the famous Arnaud’s and other recipes might deliberately be vague since there is not quite enough information to actually make them.I am completely enamored by the names of recipes found in local cookbooks– like-

  • Elegant Spinach, No Peep Stew, Yellow Birds, Oyster Crackers Deluxe
  • Dump Cake, Florida Snowball, Dirt Cake, Mama Dee’s End of Summer Soup
  • ‘Ain’t Mad at Nobody’ Turnip Green Casserole, Elephant Stew
  • Bob’s Firehall Potatoes, Barbi’s Spinach Dip and Bread
  • Wanda’s Cheese and Beef Spread, Baptist Pound Cake, Preacher Cookies
  • Dixie’s Favorite Gingerbread, Christmas Rocks, Pecan Cocoons
  • Chicken Barbequed with a Spanish Flair and Marinate these- quicker than you can say the name- ‘Quick’ Italian Marinated Japanese Mixed Vegetables’

And these recipes just scratch the surface! My mother’s double first cousin even devoted an entire page to ‘Perfect Iced Tea’. You can’t make this stuff up, y’all- it is high drama to me! Imagine the meetings and the tastings and the jockeying for space -whether by a bunch of cousins or society ladies! The Lee Brothers Cookbooks and Pat Conroy’s cookbook- Recipes of My Life- have stories that  capture and hold the imagination! image

Then there are the most highly prized recipes of all– the ones handed down, like my grandmother’s Macaroni and Cheese which is fairly precise in measurement, yet written by a person who truly cooked by taste and feel. This macaroni and cheese is more like a soufflé than the standard recipe made with a white sauce- it is one of the comfort foods of my childhood.


Mimi’s Macaroni and Cheese

Preheat oven to 350. 1 cup of cooked elbow macaroni (yes just one cup) 1 Large Block of fresh grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese ( I use 12 oz.) 4-6 Large eggs, milk? I use about 1/4 cup whole milk-( I use approx. 1/3 cup) melted and cooled butter, salt, cayenne pepper to taste.(Start with a pinch though I use 1/2 teaspoon) Butter a 8 inch wide/3 inch deep round oven proof dish or soufflé bowl. In a bowl, crack eggs and beat. Add milk, salt, cayenne to taste to the eggs. Add 1/2 of grated cheese and cooked elbow macaroni. Pour into buttered baking dish, top with the other half of the cheese. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until egg mixture is set and cheese is bubbling. Serve hot. *This is very good.


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I think I’ve gained weight just reading these wonderful cookbooks and more! Try reading a local cookbook or one of these! Let me know what cookbooks you’re reading! I hope you’re enjoying them as much as we do here at Camellia’s Cottage!

Love y’all, Camellia

Here are a few to get you started:

Recipe Jubilee is a retired cookbook from The Junior League of Mobile Alabama

Pat Conroy Cookbook Pat Conroy is from South Carolina

The Path of a Child by Sojourner McConnell from Birmingham, Alabama

Lee Brothers Cookbooks – Matt and Ted Lee are from Charleston

All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg from Piedmont, Alabama

AOL image of Silver Punch Bowl may be subject to copyright

If…

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Such a little word…IF. Right in the middle of the word ‘Life’ is that tiny word – If… Part of the human experience uses the word- If… generally in a ‘looking back sort of way’. IF often stands for questioning regrets, the ‘what-if’s’ -the ‘if only’s’ which haunt us, disappointments with life and with God…

  • Lord, if You had been here…
  • Lord, if You had not allowed this.
  • Lord, if You loved us…

‘Help us Lord, to watch for that day, when our eyes see You. Give us that gift of faith, which believes when all else says impossible. While we are waiting for You to heal our broken hearts, to straighten out our paths- give us Light for an unsure future- let us see a shimmering glimmer of You. You know there are hidden places in our hearts where we just gave up. Help us renew our commitment to believe, until You reveal Your purposes in circumstances that puzzle us, in situations that are stubborn and have not changed in many years. Whenever we stumbled; whatever happened that made us stop believing; wherever the IF’s are in Life, wherever we were-whether by the grave or by the way, give to us the courage to lay down the IF’s; so that we might pick up our faith once more. In the Strong Name of Jesus Christ. Amen’


Trouble, regrets and storms are a part of life, I hope we won’t waste too much time using that ol’ word IF. Remember the old saying? ‘We can’t always control the wind, but we can adjust our sails’ as you listen to this beautiful meditative version of ‘Sails’ by Chet Atkins!https://youtu.be/TkVKPfEBoiE

Love y’all, Camellia

Top photograph- the Beautiful Sunset by our photographer friend -Jeremy Miniard. Prayer and Excerpt from Chapter 7- If is a Part of Life, page 48 of ‘Four Days-the Lazarus Principle’ by Brenda Wyatt- more information on ‘About Us’ page Bottom photograph by Tony Marlar for his YouTube video of ‘Sails’ by Chet Atkins

Tacky or Tasteful #3…

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The South is a Matriarchal society. There’s a reason our Daddies said, ‘Ask your momma’. For all our feminine clothes and flirting…it’s true y’all, Southern Women are ‘Steel Magnolias’, who rule the roost with an Iron Hand whether the Roost is the size of the Chicken coop or a Big House on a hill. They insisted on- Tradition, Tact and Taste- otherwise their families would erode into Tacky or even worse- Trashy. They knew that classic dressing would last- if you had a Nice Black Dress and a Good White Blouse- you could dress Tastefully whether you had a fortune or lost one.

A whole lot of us, including me, wore a mix of new, homemade and hand-me-down clothing. We were not poor, I just had an older sister. If garments were well made and classic, they stood the test of time. Then there were some who learned the art of Tasteful Fashion by association with friends who had Mothers who insisted that Dressin’ Decent was the right thing to do. It boiled down to self respect and respect for others. I still believe this. I can never forget hearin’ our mommas say– ‘Always leave something to the imagination darlin’

So, to end Fashion Week at Camellia’s Cottage, let’s talk Accessories and more…

  • Pearls
  • A Good Watch
  • A Nice Pocketbook
  • Monograms
  • Sunglasses, Diamond Studs and Lipstick

Some of us come from the school of wearing a Single Strand of Pearls- others like to pile them on! I’m with Chanel who wore ropes and ropes of them! Nothing dresses up the neckline of a blouse or a simple dress like Pearls. Just don’t wear your pearls on your wedding day – my grandmother thought wearing pearls on your wedding day signified a string of troubles! Though that is not a proven fact.

A good Watch, whether it’s Cartier or Timex sets off any outfit casual or dressy. Our mommas wanted us to have a Watch because they expected us to be on time– for school, work and get home when we were supposed to! jackie-kennedy-vintage-cartier-black-turtleneck

A Nice Pocketbook is always a necessity. Let’s face it- if Queen Elizabeth thinks carryin’ a pocketbook is the right thing to do- who’s gonna argue with her? The Fashion Icons carried them too!

Monograms-Give a Southern Woman a blank surface of fabric and we can figure out how to monogram it! Several years ago- I inherited a mink stroller from my friend’s mother – on the inside her name had been monogrammed. In the South, if we ever get a cool snap, we’ll throw on a fur coat- real or faux- with jeans or our finery. However, after inheriting the mink stroller, to be honest I never had the occasion to wear it until our family flew to Montreal one winter– I wore it on the plane. Of course I was burning up! I looked down and saw Sybil’s name monogrammed inside and immediately was horrified thinking- if that plane crashed- they would think Sybil had died all over again! I love monograms.  Monogrammed handkerchiefs, scarves and jewelry are classic.monogrammed-silver-bracelet

A great pair of Sunglasses can take you anywhere! Not only do they stave off cataracts at the beach, but protect the delicate skin around your eyes and are a touch of glamour! The Fashion Icons agree!

Hold onto that thought… because I am about to share some well kept secrets

Diamond Studs, real or faux, are appropriate for young ladies and the ah…Southern Belles who are aging gracefully. I’ll never forget when chandelier earrings became fashionable- a Southern Mother told her daughter-‘Ruth Anne, the only appropriate place for chandeliers to hang are from the ceiling!‘ The truth is- wearing earrings is fun when  you’re young…but when it comes time to get a job? Listen to the Southern Mothers- ‘Nobody’s gonna hire you if all they notice are those earbobs janglin’ around!’ Wear Diamond studs instead. Now,hang in there with me… Think- Sunglasses, Diamond Studs and Red Lipstick! 

The truth is- Red Lipstick in all of it’s varied shades is the most classic pick of all timeRed Revival from Maybelline™ and. Cherries in the Snow from Revlon™ are all time favorites. Red Revival on the left- Cherries in the Snow on the left. Both have that Hollywood glamour!

 Diamond Studs bring sparkle up higher on your face, actually brighten the eyes and detract from fine lines! For those times when you wouldn’t be caught dead actually getting out of the car but need to scoot to the drive thru window at the bank-Sunglasses and Red Lipstick are a lifesaver. And finally, darlin’ …if you are gonna inflict your bare feet on the general public- please paint those toenails Red!

I can’t resist showing you my ever glamourous friend, Lorrie- she’s worn Red Revival Lipstick for years!morton-tims-event-1-029

Oh, I’ve had so much fun laughing with you during our Fashion Week at Camellia’s Cottage. Don’t be Tacky, be Tasteful in all you do! Of course we’ll never run out of advice from our Southern Mothers!

Love y’all, Camellia

The top photograph is from my friend Paula’s personal collection. The bottom photograph is from my personal collection. Other images are from AOL and may be subject to copyright.

Tacky or Tasteful #2…

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It’s Fashion Week here at Camellia’s Cottage! This is our second installment of Tacky or Tasteful? Every Southern Mother despairs of her children looking Tacky- it reflects badly on her and of course can send her to bed with a case of the vapors. We discussed the basic solid Tasteful colors of Black, White, Gray and Red, however there are Tasteful Fabrics and Prints which are suitable for a Southern lady’s wardrobe. The most highly prized fabrics are natural or natch-ral as we pronounce it.

Cotton– We know cotton, we raise it. Think thread count and fine gauge here. The heavier the cotton fabric, well-the more coarse and common it is. While we have made allowances for Denim- because let’s face it, Denim helps our economy; it should be noted that Denim was considered the Fabric of Laborers. No Southern Lady worth her salt wanted anyone to actually know that she even broke a sweat, much less owned a pair of Denim Jeans. We have evolved on this point, now a good pair of Dress Jeans and a pair of White Jeans make up a part of the must-haves in the Southern Wardrobe. Though, let’s leave off those Denim Overalls once you get out of Kindergarten.

Wool – Southerners love wool, at least the idea of wool-the problem is the heat so we have to go for fine gauge wools and menswear fabrics, that have a nice drape. A nice pair of slacks, a sharply creased pleated skirt or a well cut pencil skirt. A cashmere or camel hair dress coat- now you’re getting the Southern territory.  Whole conversations and exclamations have occurred about wool-

  • ‘Now honey you know you can’t wear that boucle jacket – it makes you look thick’
  • ‘Why in the world would you get a Harris Tweed jacket? Did you get accepted to Harvard?’
  • Get the Heather Sweater, you’ll look like one of the Von Trapps in it.’

So, think fine gauge in boucles, tweeds and more rustic wools that are strengthened with good silk linings.

Silk– just don’t get me started here…Shirtwaist dresses, blouses, suits, scarves and silk linings.  Silk seemed like the ultimate luxury fabric to our Southern Mothers. Lingerie drawers full of silk gowns and undergarments. We especially love raw silk- which is nubbier with a stiffness that is appropriate for suits and sheath dresses. We do love silk- though there is rarely a mention that one stain and the whole garment is ruined for life.

Velvet– Southern women have always loved cotton velvet. We love the feel of it- go for lightweight as it can add bulk unless you are skinny as a rail.  Jackets, Sheath dresses, hostess skirts, collars or piping on wool coats, vests and even in our homes-  Where do you think Scarlett got the idea to make that devastating velvet dress when Tara was a broken wreck?scarlettcurtain-dress

Linen – is highly prized in the South. Even though it wrinkles beforeyou walk out the door, sit down or bend an elbow, Linen wrinkles but a Southern Mother will tell you- ‘Why honey, that’s how folks will know it’s real linen.’ Women have been known to use up a case of Spray Starch getting the wrinkles out of linen, only to get it wrinkled just in the act of buttoning it up. We love our natch-ral Linen. I have a friend who gets so excited when she ‘gets out her linen’ We want to have our Linen from Easter to September.

The truth is most of our Southern mommas preferred solid colors as classics, however there are some classic Patterned Fabrics-that can be either Tacky or Tasteful-

  • Gingham
  • Houndstooth
  • Plaids
  • Stripes
  • Animal Prints

Cotton is our top fabric of course- we have an ancestral attachment to it. Gingham is tricky though. Our mommas thought a baby must be six months old before wearing gingham and then it must be the tiniest possible gingham. Checks get gradually larger as Southern Women age…with a reasonable cutoff however. We don’t want to look like a Tablecloth at a Picnic! Gingham is perfect for picnics, field trips and going to the farmer’s market.jackiebw-classic-gingham

 

Houndstooth (as long as it is of a reasonable size) Big ol’ Houndstooth is never acceptable if the teeth on it are as big as your daddy’s hound dog. The one exception is a Bear Bryant Houndstooth Hat- go hog wild Bama Fans!

John and Jacqueline Kennedy arrive to attend a mass in Middleburg, VA, 4/9/61.

Plaid– Classic, especially if the plaid is your Family Tartan, real or imagined. Scale is important to tastefully wearing plaid. Don’t put on some big loud plaid that looks like the upholstery in an RV or a Recliner at the hunting camp. No seamstress in the state could match at the seams of a loud plaid. Now that’s Tacky. Tartans are tasteful, darlin’a-hepburn-classic-plaid

Striped clothing is considered Nautical and therefore classic. Coco Chanel was inspired to design women’s clothing after she noticed some handsome sailors on shore leave. Chanel saw the potential and the comfort of striped knits- ever since Southern Women have loved our Stripes.

Animal Prints– a warning here: Southern Mothers reserved animal prints reserved for the more mature woman. We would certainly never want our southern daughters to look wild in any way.. use touches of animal prints- a scarf, a blouse, a collar or a cardigan. Animal prints can either look exotic or tacky- you surely don’t want to end up looking like the Flintstones. Now that would be Tacky. If you’re determined to walk on the wild side- do it Tastefully, like Jackie.jackie-kennedy-fur-animal-print

As Fashion Week continues at Camellia’s Cottage-Remember in all of these fabrics and prints- scale, weight and quality are what our Southern Mothers were trying to instill in us all. The Fashion Icons agree.

Love y’all, Camellia

Top photo is a photograph of a friend’s mother lunching with a friend at the Waldorf Astoria NYC- many years ago. Other images are from AOL images and may be copyrighted.

Tacky or Tasteful?

cafe1-vintage-womenYou should know the difference between looking Tacky or being Tastefully dressed almost from birth in the South. Southern Mothers take it as a personal insult if the children aren’t dressed right. You will hear things like:

  • What was her Momma thinking lettin’ Savannah Jo leave the house like that?
  • How could she put that baby in blue jeans- not even out of the bassinet!
  • As pale as Mary Beth is- her momma should have known she couldn’t wear that yellow next to her face- it’s just plain tacky.
  • Well, she obviously wasn’t raised right.

To help you avoid comments like this from getting back to you, I have declared it Fashion Week at Camellia’s Cottage. For the first installment- I have compiled a Basic List of what is considered appropriate and Tasteful so you can avoid being labelled Tacky– that is unless you are specifically invited to a Tacky Party.

  • Pearls are a mainstay of a Tasteful wardrobe. These can be real or cultured– a southern lady must be both real and cultured.
  • When a young lady is old enough to consume alcohol or becomes eligible to vote – Tasteful Ladies wear Black, White, Gray and Red– almost exclusively in fact.
  • Natural Linen, Navy and Cream are also considered classic- especially if you mix them with the Tasteful colors, Black, White, Gray or Red.
  • To veer away too sharply is to risk looking Tacky.
  • Do not ever wear Off or Muddy colors, it just reeks of Iron Water in the washing machine. There are some who can pull these colors off, just know that these women are considered Bohemian.
  • Camellia Pink is a color some Strong Southern Women can pull off.
  • Yellow and Green do funny things to the skin tone when worn close to the face. No one wants a green or yellow cast to the skin, it’s Tacky and  makes you look sick.
  • Brighter colors are considered Cruise Wear or when you want to have a little Fun in Spring or Summer.
  • It is acceptable to wear your SEC Football Team Colors all year round regardless of the colors- this is considered Patriotic and your Duty as a True Fan.
  • If you want to add a little Zip to your Wardrobe- wear a Scarf or carefully selected Accessories.

To avoid looking Tacky- Every Well Dressed Southern Lady must own

  1.  A Black Turtleneck
  2. Two well cut Blouses in Black and White
  3.  A Traditional Pencil Skirt or Pleated Skirt if your figure will allow for it
  4. A well cut pair of Black Pants
  5.  Sweater Set in the Tasteful colors
  6. A good pair of White Pants
  7. At least one Sheath Dress in the Tasteful colors
  8. A Decent Black Dress is acceptable for evening and for funerals and is a Fashion Must Have in the South.
  9. A Chanel Inspired Suit
  10. A Black Winter Coat and since you will wear this maybe once or twice per year in the South, make sure it is made of Cashmere or Wool, then stored in moth balls. Jackie In Belfast

Finally, if you lacked training from a Southern Mother, look to the Fashion Icons– even if most of them are Yankees. You can’t go wrong with Jackie, Grace, Audrey and Coco-

A New York City Shopping Trip is considered part of a civilized young lady’s upbringingParis if you’re at leisure and flush with cash; Atlanta if you find yourself strapped for cash or time.shopping-in-nyc-vintage

Look for upcoming installments of Fashion Week at Camellia’s Cottage for Tasteful Advice on makeup, accessories, nautical wear and more…We can’t have you looking Tacky!

Love y’all, Camellia

Images are from AOL and may be copyrighted.